Saturday, May 2, 2009

Airlines pare down flights to Vietnam as demand shrinks

01 May 2009

Vietnam Airlines and international airlines have shrunk their summer flight schedules to Vietnam as air demand to the destination drops further amid the economic crisis.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to VietNamNet Bridge on Tuesday that preliminary data was showing an average year-on-year drop of 4 percent in international flights to Vietnam.

Vo Huy Cuong, Head of CAAV’s Air Transport Division, listed Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia as carriers which had reduced their services to Vietnam.

Thai Air Asia has reduced the daily flight frequency on its Hanoi–Bangkok route from three flights a day to two, whilst Vietnam Airlines has cut two flights to Busan, South Korea.

For the first quarter of 2009, Vietnam Airlines said it was mainly struggling with the 1.7 percent drop in its passenger and cargo figures, with a 9.3 percent drop in its overall international market.

According to Cuong, the reduction of flights, due to the economic downturn, will herald stunted growth in Vietnam’s aviation market.

However, there is good news for the country’s aviation market, with Air Asia adding four flights a week to its HCM City–Bangkok service, and Shanghai Airlines is scheduled to start thrice-weekly services between Hanoi and Shanghai this summer.

Northwest Airlines will also fly daily from HCM City to destinations in the US via Tokyo from June 1.

AirAsia chip in RM500,000 for Asia Cup

01 May 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have received a RM500,000 sponsorship from AirAsia for the Asia Cup tournament in Kuantan from May 9-16.

MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahamd Shah, who said the Asia Cup will cost about RM1.3mil to host, thanked AirAsia for their support.

“We have a few more sponsors lined up to help ease our burden,” he said after the signing ceremony with AirAsia group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes yesterday.

“I would like to thank Tony for this generous gesture and hope this long-term commitment will help improve Malaysia’s rankings in the world from the current 15th.

“I want to see Malaysia in the top-ten bracket soon. Only then will I seek another term in MHF.”

Tengku Abdullah said it would be easier to attract sponsors if the national team were more successful on the field.

“We need about RM3mil a year to train the various age-groups and run all our tournaments,” he said.

Fernandes, meanwhile, said he got hooked on hockey after watching the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur as an 11-year-old.

“I believe the partnership between MHF and AirAsia will be a fruitful and lasting one,” said Tony, who turned 45 yesterday.

At the same function, Reebok also signed a memorandum of understandings (MoU) with the MHF to sponsor the attire for the seniors and the National Juniors in the Asia Cup and the Junior World Cup (June).

Seven teams will compete in the Asia Cup following Sri Lanka’s withdrawal on Tuesday. Malaysia are in Group A with South Korea, Japan and Bangladesh. Group B comprises defending hampions India, Pakistan and China.

AirAsia Signs 10-Year Deal with Akamai to Boost Online Performance and Reliability

30 April 2009

MALAYSIA & SINGAPORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The “World’s Best Low-Cost Airline,” AirAsia and Akamai Technologies, Inc. today announced a long-term partnership that is expected to further strengthen AirAsia’s market share in the highly competitive aviation industry. AirAsia’s highly popular website,, will be powered by Akamai’s Dynamic Site Acceleration solution under the company’s first-ever 10-year agreement with an airline.

Akamai’s Dynamic Site Acceleration solutions deliver website performance up to five times faster than the origin Web infrastructure and handles the specific requirements of dynamically-generated content — without a costly hardware build out. By leveraging Akamai’s globally-distributed delivery network of 48,000 secure servers equipped with specialized software and deployed in 70 countries, AirAsia will provide a premium online experience to their customers with enhanced site speed and performance.

Akamai (NASDAQ: AKAM) is the global leader in powering rich media, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online.

Dato’ Sri Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, AirAsia Berhad said, “Through this strategic partnership with Akamai, AirAsia will be able to keep up our momentum in enhancing our market share. It is very crucial to support our ever expanding fleet and route network. On top of it all, this reflects AirAsia’s commitment to providing our guests with the best online experience.

“AirAsia’s website is highly popular and enjoys an average of one million unique visitors a month. With our promotional deals and free-seat regional campaigns, the number of hits increases dramatically, so we need a solution to ensure our guests have a speedier, more reliable and uninterrupted online experience on We are very pleased with our partnership with Akamai for providing world-class technological expertise in helping to build profitable and high-performance online businesses for AirAsia,” concluded Dato’ Sri Tony.

Stuart Spiteri, Managing Director, Asia Pacific for Akamai Technologies said, “AirAsia is truly a leading brand that is always improving its competitiveness. Their commitment to Akamai underscores their vision, ambition and pursuit of excellence to deliver a best-of-class online experience for its global customers. Akamai has the unique ability to help accelerate AirAsia’s dynamic online content they depend on to build market share and enhance their brand. For the past 10 years, Akamai has made it our goal to power a better Internet for everyone. Akamai congratulates AirAsia for taking the lead once again. AirAsia’s 10-year agreement with Akamai also represents one of the longest client contracts to be awarded to our company.”

Presently, more than 2,900 enterprises worldwide trust Akamai’s single, turnkey managed service that increases the scale, reach, and performance of even the most complex Web sites, and includes a full set of tools for enterprises to monitor and control their online business.

About Akamai Technologies

Akamai® provides market-leading managed services for powering rich media, dynamic transactions, and enterprise applications online. Having pioneered the content delivery market one decade ago, Akamai's services have been adopted by the world's most recognized brands across diverse industries. The alternative to centralized Web infrastructure, Akamai's global network of tens of thousands of distributed servers provides the scale, reliability, insight and performance for businesses to succeed online. Akamai has transformed the Internet into a more viable place to inform, entertain, interact, and collaborate. To experience The Akamai Difference, visit

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Travellers invited to sample AIRASIA X’s new menu of takeaway online fares

Travellers have been invited to sample AirAsia X’s new menu of takeaway online fares, which includes unbeatable prices for flights from Australia to Kuala Lumpur, across Asia and the UK.

Passengers can try an AirAsia X takeaway special from Perth to Kuala Lumpur from $100* one way and from the Gold Coast or Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur for $200* one way.

The feast of budget fares includes flights beyond Kuala Lumpur to more than 60 destinations across Asia and the United Kingdom. AirAsia X flies direct to Stansted (London) five times weekly.

AirAsia is offering a platter of low-cost flights across Asia with fares such as Kuala Lumpur to Sarawak from just $22* one way, to Bali from $39* one way, to Laos from $32* one way and to Cambodia from just $39* one way.

AirAsia X and AirAsia’s takeaway specials are available online only to May 10 2009 or until sold out.

The promotional fares are valid for travel between July 1 2009 and November 30 2009.

For bookings or further information visit

AirAsia unveils new promotion campaign

LOW-COST carrier AirAsia Bhd has launched a “No Bull! No Fuel Surcharge” campaign, which assures passengers flying on AirAsia and AirAsia X that they will only have to pay for the cost of their fares, airport taxes and administration fees.

The promotion is available from all its hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Kota Kinabalu, Bandung, Johor Baru and Bali. Prices start as low as RM25 one-way to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Ho Chi Minh, Medan, Padang and Surabaya, and RM45 one-way to Hanoi, Bali, Solo, Manado, Makassar and Yogyakarta.

Guests can book their seats to all AirAsia international destinations until May 10 2009 for travel between July 1 and November 30 2009 via or

AirAsia load factor falls to lowest levels in over two years in 1Q09

29 April 2009

AirAsia transported 3.1 million passengers in the three months ended 31-Mar-09 (1Q09), representing a 21% year-on-year increase. Also in the first quarter, traffic (RPKs) increased 17% year-on-year (indicating a shift to more shorter-haul flying by passengers), on a 19% capacity (ASKs) increase, resulting in a load factor reduction of 2.4 ppts to 69.7%. This was AirAsia’s lowest load factor in over two years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free seats on new AirAsia routes

28 April 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia is offering free seats on its two new routes – Singapore-Langkawi and Penang-Singapore – when the flights begin on June 1.

The airline is also offering free seats from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to mark the increase in flight frequency, from the current seven daily to eight, also starting on June 1.

The free seats are available for booking until May 3 – for travel between June 1 and Jan 31.

AirAsia regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan said the airline was keen to stimulate more travel and tourism activities by opening up these routes, which would definitely benefit the country’s economy.

“Langkawi is a beautiful island with many interesting spots, while Penang is a destination well-known for its gastronomic delights and diverse culture.

“Direct flight to these islands will offer more choices in holiday destinations for Singaporeans, and our low fares will definitely be the utmost reason for them to visit new locations in Malaysia,” she said.

On the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route, Tan said there was tremendous response since it was introduced, with an average load factor of 80%.

“Due to the overwhelming demand, we decided to increase the frequency from seven to eight flights daily,” she added.

“This is indeed a bold move on our part, but we are confident of seeing excellent passenger loads,” she said.

Malaysian MVNO selects Megasoft arm

28 April 2009

Malaysian mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Tunetalk, has selected XIUS-bcgi, the telecom brand of Chennai-based technology company Mega Soft Limited, to launch its services in Southeast Asia.

XIUS-bcgi, through its mobile services platform (MSP), will power Tunetalk’s launch and delivery of its advertising-supported mobile phone service initially in Malaysia and subsequently to other countries in the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.

Tunetalk, co-founded by Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of low-cost airline AirAsia, is launching on the Celcom network in Malaysia in 2009. Plans are under way for similar launches in 2010 in other countries in the region.

“XIUS-bcgi will be responsible for the supply and turnkey management of the customised core network infrastructure for enabling Tunetalk's mobile launch through its multi-country rollout,” GV Kumar, chief executive officer of XIUS-bcgi, said in a release on Monday.

Megasoft since 2008 has been focusing on MVNOs and has so far made three installation of its MSPs for MVNOs in Europe that were connected to Vodafone, and one installation for Diemo, a GSM (global system for mobile communications) operator in Venezuela.

The company, in October 2008, told Business Standard that it was on the verge of forging a $7-million (about Rs 35 crore) deal with an MVNO in Asia-Pacific and that the client was looking at entering India when the MVNO licensing policy was clear to one and all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

AirAsia And Scicom Establish World-class Contact Centre

KUALA LUMPUR -- AirAsia Bhd together with Scicom (MSC) Bhd have established Asian Contact Centre Sdn Bhd to serve the low-cost carrier's customers from around the world.

AirAsia's group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said the airline was looking to provide better quality services through the world-class contact centre set up under the collaboration.

"We are looking at solutions rather than avoiding complaints. The establishment of the contact centre, we believe, is another step towards providing quality services," he told reporters at the launch of Asian Contact Centre here today.

"For the past two weeks, I have not received any complaint and services are improving," he said.

Also present at the launch was Scicom's chief executive officer Leo Ariyanayakam.

The contact centre, an equal-partnership joint venture company that started operations on Feb 16 this year, is aimed at meeting customers' expectations and ensure that their booking needs and enquiries are handled efficiently.

Currently, it serves AirAsia's customers from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Operations will soon expand to serve customers in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, the Middle East and India, AirAsia said.

Asked about the impact of the Thai political crisis on the airline, Fernandes said business was still strong and AirAsia's load factor to Bangkok was 74 percent yesterday.

"I think Southeast Asia is very resilient. There are a lot of opportunities and demand. People still want to fly. The other Thai destinations are also unaffected, and Thailand is an unique place," he said.

AirAsia eyes Viet, Philippine affiliates

By setting up affiliate airlines in the two countries, AirAsia will have access to a combined population of roughly 180 million.

Low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd (5099) wants to have new associate units in the Philippines and Vietnam to strengthen its footprint in the Asean region.

AirAsia now has a 49 per cent stake each in affiliate airlines Indonesia AirAsia and Thai AirAsia.

"It will be great to have operations in the Philippines and Vietnam - the two biggest countries in Asean that we have yet to establish a base in," group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes told Business Times in an interview last Friday.

By setting up affiliate airlines in the two countries, AirAsia will have access to a combined population of roughly 180 million.
"We have been offered a lot of joint ventures around the region and this shows the power of our brand," Fernandes said.

However, he has not set a time frame for the expansion as AirAsia is still searching for the right partners and working on securing licences from the respective governments.

Fernandes said the planned venture with Vietnam's shipbuilding giant Vinashin to form a Vietnamese low-cost carrier was frozen by the Vietnamese government.

AirAsia had signed a letter of intent in 2007 for a 30 per cent stake to set up its third affiliate airline, Vina AirAsia, which was to have been operational by the middle of last year.

According to a Vietnamese daily, its government has since told state-owned companies, such as Vinashin, to focus on their core activities.

Furthermore, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has proposed to its Transport Ministry not to issue new airline licences in Vietnam until 2011.

"But we are very patient. After all, we waited seven years to get the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route. So I'm sure it will happen," Fernandes said.

He added that his ultimate vision was for all the AirAsia affiliates in Asean to become a single entity.

"My dream, without sounding like Martin Luther King, is that we are one airline in the end. Basically, for us to become one quoted company in Asean."

In the meantime, AirAsia will continue to position itself as an Asean company and strive to be a dominant airline in the region.

AirAsia slumps as swine flu may hit travel

SHARES of Malaysia’s budget carrier AirAsia slid nearly 9 per cent to RM1.14 today after fears that further spread of swine flu would hit the travel industry, analysts said.

State-owned Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) shares were also down 3.2 per cent at RM3.04, slightly better than AirAsia because of a lower level of foreign shareholders, an analyst with a local brokerage whose policy does not allow him to be named, said.

“I think this (swine flu) is going to hurt everybody. MAS shares are fairly tightly held by local institutions but AirAsia shares are widely owned by foreigners. So you have higher liquidity in the market and as and when something happens you will see bigger volatility in share price,” the analyst said.

Fears of a global swine flu pandemic mounted with new infections in the United States and Canada, and millions of Mexicans stayed indoors to avoid a virus that has already killed up to 103 people.

No slowdown in AirAsia sales, says CEO

27 April 2009

AIRASIA, Southeast Asia's biggest budget carrier, has yet to see any sales slowdown despite the current economic situation, group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said today.

"There is no decline in any routes because of the low fares we offer and we fly to places that one go, such as Bandung, Banda Aceh and Vientiane," he said after announcing an alliance with Maybank and American Express on AirAsia's acceptance of Amex cards for bookings.

Also present at the event were Maybank executive vice president and head of cards and payments, Ashraf Ali Abdul Kadir, and American Express International senior vice president and head of global network services, Japan/Asia Pacific/Australia, Kula Kulendran.

Fernandes said that the investment in network expansion and a consistent low fares were also among the factors contributing to the airline's growth.

Despite the economic challenges, there was an opportunity to build market share, he said, adding that AirAsia has received good response for its latest route between Kuala Lumpur and Taipei, with more than 20,000 seats sold.

On fears that the spread of swine flu would hit the travel industry, Fernandes said AirAsia's sales has been unaffected by the virus because people will fly within Southeast Asia rather than in America.

"I am gloomy about the economy but I am not too worried about the pandemic because a lot of resources has been put in to stop it," he said.

According to Fernandes, AirAsia is positive on the company's growth and will continue to grow despite the economic challenges.

"We saw a 21 per cent year-on-year increase in our passenger volume for the first quarter of this year when we flew 3.1 million guests," he said.

On the partnership with Maybank and American Express, Fernandes said: "We are confident that this number will grow now that American Express cardmembers are able to easily book seats with us."

Commenting on the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT), Fernandes said that there was still no progress on the construction part, adding that the airport was crucial to enable Malaysia to gain opportunities.

It is understood that the new LCCT will be build by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd and work is expected to start middle of this year, and scheduled for completion by the third quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, Ashraf Ali said that Maybank is working to ensure that payments with the American Express card are made available at AirAsia booking counters nationwide by middle of next month.

The first phase of this payment convenience will be offered for flights from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and for online payments, he said.

"Since Maybank acquired the American Express issuing and merchant business in Malaysia in 2006, we have continued to offer exciting programmes as well as expended the scope of facilities to cardmembers," Ashraf Ali said.

"This has resulted in a 93 per cent growth in card spending by American Express cardmembers in Malaysia," he said. --

AirAisa: Free seats for Singapore-Langkawi and Penang-Singapore routes

27 April 2009

KUALA LUMPUR- AirAsia is once more offering sweet deals to its guests, by offering free seats as introduction to its two new routes -- Singapore-Langkawi and Penang-Singapore.

These new routes will simultaneously commence on June 1, 2009 with daily services.

"By opening up these routes, we are looking forward to stimulating more travel and tourism activities which will definitely benefit the country's economy," said AirAsia Regional Head of Commercial, Kathleen Tan, in a statement today.

"We always remain bullish that our low fares will help to stimulate and induce new travel demand, and will help boost tourism potential on both ends," she said.

The free seats deals are exclusively available online via AirAsia's website at or

Booking period is from today to May 3, 2009 for travel between June 1, 2009 and Jan 31, 2010.

Alongside the new routes, the airline is increasing its frequency from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, bringing the total frequency to eight direct daily flights from the current seven.

The added frequency will also commence operations on June 1, 2009, with free seats on offer to mark its initiation.

The free seats offer is also available online with similar booking and travel period as the new routes above.

"Our Kuala Lumpur - Singapore route on the other hand, received tremendous response ever since it was first introduced, with an average load factor of 80 percent," said Tan.

The free seats offer exclude airport tax, admin fees and are applicable for one-way only.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rush for AirAsia jobs at fair

Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam (left) chatting with some job-seekers at the Ministry of Human Resources' job placement fair in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR: It would seem that AirAsia Bhd is not only a hit with air travellers, but also a hot favourite among job seekers as well.

Within hours of the opening of its booth at the Ministry of Human Resources' job placement fair here yesterday, 103 youths had applied for 34 ramp agent jobs.

The youths were willing to run 500m and hoist 20kg of weights just to get an interview for a job which includes handling baggage and pushing aircraft.

Ramp manager S. Hamid Mohd Yusof, who handled the stream of enthusiastic youths, mostly in their early 20s, said AirAsia held the physical test to see how serious the applicants were.

"The job is tough and requires great commitment. For one who is serious, it can be a rewarding career with good prospects to move up the ranks in AirAsia."

Hamid said many youths were interested in joining AirAsia due to the glamour of its brand.

Mohd Hafiz Mohammad, 24, from Nilai in Negri Sembilan, who qualified for an interview, said he had no problem completing the running and weightlifting tests.

Another youth was seen trying to persuade Hamid to give him a chance to try out for the job although he did not have a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certificate, which is the minimum requirement.

V. Anbarasan and S. Vasu, both 26, were also unlucky as they did not have a Maybank ATM card which was another requirement for those wishing to be included in the interview.

Thousands flocked to the fair where a total of 8,530 jobs in Kuala Lumpur were on offer.

Among those seen busy filling up the registration forms was Mohd Faisal Masran, 26.

"I graduated from Universiti Utara Malaysia with a degree in Business Information Technology in January."

S. Rajindran, 46, who was retrenched from a tour and travel company four months ago, hoped to get a job as a driver.

The father of two said he had been searching unsuccessfully for work to support his family after being retrenched.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, who opened the fair, said if Malaysians were not choosy, they would have no problem finding work.

"There are 20 employers and 14 training providers participating in today's fair.

"In Kuala Lumpur, at present, there are 6,392 jobs, including 2,000 for graduates, for which training will be provided.

"There are another 2,138 jobs, including 670 for graduates, available for direct intake."

In Alor Star, heavy rain which lasted about two hours did nothing to prevent some 4,000 job seekers from attending a mini-career exposition yesterday.

The one-day long exposition, held at SK Tuan Haji Ismail, was organised by the Kuala Kedah Umno division and state Labour Department.

A total of 22 companies were there to fill 2,000 vacancies.

Airlines Liftoff Gives Phuket Fresh Flying Start

25 April 2009

BLUE skies lie ahead this week for Phuket and its potential as an air hub for the region.

On Thursday last week, the 14-member board of the Airports of Thailand flew to Phuket to meet and confirmed plans to almost double the capacity of Phuket airport before 2020.

On Thursday this week, low-cost carrier AirAsia will open a new store on the beach road in Patong with an extravagant giveaway of 700 umbrellas to the local municipality.

And on Friday May 1, another low-cost carrier, Firefly, starts a new daily service between Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, giving passengers greater choice on the popular route.

Both brands are likely to be striving to compete for the attention of island residents and visitors over the coming months.

If the opening ceremony this week at the first Bangkok sales office for AirAsia is anything to go by, Thursday's event in Patong should be something to see.

Festivities at the Khao San Road sales office began with the handover ceremony of 30 decorated padthai carts to street vendors in the Banglumpoo area.

While Internet bookings are increasingly popular for flight seekers, face-to-face one-stop service is also seen as consistently important.

Patong is Phuket's equivalent of Khao San Road, and a whole lot more.

While AirAsia will be on the beach road, Firefly's new office, in the Jungceylon lifestyle mall, opened earlier this month.

Both airlines have strong Malaysian connections, with Firefly a community airline supported by the mainstream Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

It may also be no coincidence that Phuket's first four-day Halal Meeting and Exhibition on the Beach begins on April 30, with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva likely to make a visit to the island the following day for an official opening.

A trade and technology conference highlighting the potential of halal will take place at the Hilton Arcadia Phuket on Karon beach, with a four-day fair in the public park at Saphan Hin from Thursday.

Strong contributions from Indonesia and Malaysia should be evident at both events and tens of thousands of people are expected at the fair.

As for Phuket's future, it seems to be a good week to make a flying fresh start.

20,000 Airasia KL-Taipei Seats Sold Out In 12 Hours

24 April 2009

KUALA LUMPUR-- AirAsia, the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia, has received good response for its latest route between Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Taipei with more than 20,000 seats snapped up in the first 12 hours.

Its regional head of commercial, Kathleen Tan, said it was the most successful route launched this year in terms of take-up within few hours of opening sale at 12am Friday.

"This is a clear signal of a strong and pent-up demand for the KL-Taipei route and a positive indication that regional markets in this part of the world are starving for low fares," she said in a statement.

Tan also said all the promotional fare seats of RM101 had been sold and feedback was received that some customers were facing problems while booking online due to congestion in the system.

"They will still be able to enjoy low fares from AirAsia," she said, adding that the new promotional low fare for the Kl-Taipei route was now starting from RM139.

Tan said the new route, being serviced by AirAsia's low-cost long-haul carrier affiliate AirAsia X, will begin on July 1 with five direct flights weekly.

AirAsia services an extensive network with 122 routes covering more than 65 destinations.